If you find yourself fighting for your life, adaptability is one of your greatest assets. In many cases this means working with whatever resources you might find along the way. If you are creative, you can use other people’s garbage to help yourself thrive in the wilderness.
One of the most widely seen types of garbage is plastic and glass bottles. You can find bottles on any shoreline on the earth, and often in plenty of other places. While humans have continually polluted our environment, this particular type of trash could save your life.
During my spring survival challenge, the only tool I brought with me was a knife. I had to find resources to help me survive simply by scouring my area. I was able to find three plastic bottles within 100 yards of the camp. It rained every day, so I was not able to get a fire started using friction, and it was too cloudy for a lens fire. The only way for me to get purified water was to collect rainwater and then use ultraviolet light for purification.
I found a deep indentation in a rock face and filled my bottles with the water inside. After sitting in the sun all day, the water was safe to drink. This is just one example of how bottles can help you survive.
In this article, we will cover how both plastic and glass bottles can get you through an SHTF scenario.
Both Plastic and Glass
Here is a list of methods that work for both plastic and glass bottles:
Carry/Purify Water – This is the number one best use of either plastic or glass bottles because there are three different ways you can purify water. If you have a clear plastic or glass bottle, fill it with clear water and set it in the sun for at least six hours. The ultraviolet light will kill the harmful pathogens.
Also, you can suspend a glass or plastic bottle full of water over a fire to boil it for purification as long as the lid is off. Finally, you can create a filter with a bottle. Remove the bottom and add layers of gravel, sand, and charcoal to filter out debris, chemicals, and harmful pathogens.
Create a Float – When fishing, often you need a floating device to indicate when a fish bites. By filling a bottle with air and sealing the top, you create a float that is perfect for fishing. If you have enough plastic bottles, you can even create a floatation device for swimming if needed.
Make a Dry Cache – One of the biggest issues with wilderness survival is keeping things dry. When it rains or snows, everything seems to get wet. However, fire-making materials and food must stay dry to serve their purpose. A bottle is perfect for this. Keep your tinder, matches, or food in a sealed bottle to ensure their value.
Early Alert System – Often you need to ensure that animals and other people are not invading your camp while you sleep. The best way to alert you is a makeshift early alert system. You can simply run a string around the perimeter of your camp and then attach a bottle to the line. Put a few small stones in the bottom, so it rattles when the line is moved.
This should wake you up if you have any unexpected guests.
Make a Lantern – A flashlight is great for a survival scenario, but it only lights up one spot. To light a whole room and keep your hands free you need a lantern. Fill a large bottle with water, press the lens of the flashlight to the side, and tape it in place. This will allow the water to refract the light illuminating the whole room.
Start a Fire – When you have a sunny day and a bottle full of water, you can use it to start a fire. The shape of a bottle allows you to magnify the rays of the sun onto a small focal point. This can increase temperatures up to 650F which allows for smoke and a small ember. You can then lightly blow on the ember to create a flame and build a fire.
There are some tasks that can only be accomplished with a plastic bottle. Here are some examples:
Making Cordage – One of the hardest tools to replicate in the wild is cordage. If you cut the bottom off of a plastic bottle, you can start trimming a thin, plastic strip. If you continue this down the length of the bottle, you will have several feet of strong cordage.
Fish Trap – Fish is one of the best sources of protein in a survival scenario. If you cut the top off of a bottle just below the taper, you can flip it and insert it back into the base. You can then punch holes and use cordage to attach the two pieces. Make the opening as wide as you need it for the fish you are going after. You can add some stones and bait to sink the trap and attract fish. The fish will swim in the opening, become confused, and not be able to swim back out.
Make a Funnel – Simply by cutting off the top of the bottle below the taper, you have a perfect filter for liquids or sand like material.
Refrigeration – You can fill a plastic bottle with water and freeze it in advance. Then when the power goes out you can transfer it to a cooler, refrigerator, or freezer to keep the food cold.
Make Sandals – If you take a two Liter bottle and smash it flat, you can use cordage to secure it to your ankle for shoes. This could save your life if you are without shoes.
Warm Shower – Fill a two Liter bottle with water and let it set in the sun all day. Then tie it above head level and punch a few holes in the cap. This will give you a steady stream of warm water for a shower.
There are also unique purposes for glass bottles. Here are some examples:
Make a Blade – Glass bottles can be broken and shaped to create several different types of blades. You can make a knife, spear point, or arrowhead. Just be sure you attach it properly or add a handle to protect your hand.
Make a Fish Hook – By chipping away at the glass, you can get a small, thin shard that is perfect for a fish hook. You simply tie your line in the middle and add bait. The fish will swallow the whole package, but it will get stuck inside its mouth.
Make an Oil Lamp – You can fill any glass bottle with a fatty, waxy, or flammable substance. Soak a wick in the substance and run it through a small hole in the cap. Light it and it should stay lit for hours.
Strike a Ferro Rod – If you have a Ferro rod but do not have a steel striker, glass works as a good alternative. Just be sure you do not hit hard enough to break the glass.
About the Author:
Almo Gregor is a firearm enthusiast and avid hunter. Outdoors, hunting and shooting were a big part of his childhood, and he continues with these traditions in his personal and professional life, passing the knowledge to others. Almo is also an editor for Outdoor Empire.